Artist Spotlight #28: Wendy Dixon Whiley

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Wendy Dixon Whiley

Think of Wendy Dixon Whiley’s artworks as a friendlier and more adorable version of the grotesque creatures you see in Nickelodeon’s cult classic, ‘Aaahh!!! Real Monsters!’. Her works liven any streets and rooms they inhabit due to their vibrant colours and kooky shapes. In our latest spotlight, Wendy tells us of her work process and her future project, ‘Paste the Hills’.

Q: Hello Wendy! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

A: I’m an Adelaide Hills based Artist who has recently completed a Master of Visual Art at UniSA. My original qualification was in Illustration Design, which as you can probably see still influences my style to this day. I’m also a bit of an arts research addict, so can often be found lurking at my university library on my days off or disappearing down the rabbit hole that is the library’s online database, emerging hours later with a stack of journal articles to pore over.

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Boards with Wendy’s designs. Photo credit: Wendy Dixon Whiley

Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?

A: A lot of my practice centres on duality and opposites occupying the same space. It’s an interest that was sparked by my own fascination, as an atheist, with religious themes – it seemed an odd thing to both reject and be and drawn towards a topic so I explore that a lot through practice-led research.

Q: Do you have a preferred medium?

A: I work with pen and ink a fair amount of the time – particularly in the development phase, however painting is increasingly starting to dominate my practice, especially as I have been starting to take on more outdoor/street art projects. I’ve recently started experimenting with paste ups as well and I have also been known to dabble in projection and other more experimental approaches, however these mostly tend to inform my process, rather than being an outcome on their own.

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Wendy’s paste ups. Photo credit: Wendy Dixon Whiley

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: My style sits somewhere on a spectrum between contemporary and street art, depending on what I am working on. There’s a distinct ‘cartoonish’ aesthetic to a lot of my work with a lot of bold lines and bright, primary colours. The style has evolved a lot in the past few years thanks to returning to study (and some amazing mentors) into a combination of a kind of personal cosmology and pictorial script.

Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?

A: I find that I need a certain amount of solitude to get into the right mindset to germinate new ideas, so I’ll deliberately remove myself from people for a day or two, sometimes longer if I’m feeling creatively blocked. I reflect a lot on any literature I read and keep detailed journals to document the process. These journals are a goldmine for ideas and I’ve found reviewing them months (or years) later can spark a new direction that didn’t occur to me at the time. Apart from that, creative play is essential – I find that my best work occurs when I am less concerned about the outcome and experiment freely.

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Wendy’s mural painted as part of the 2005 Adelaide Fringe Festival’s ‘Adelaide Art Walk’. Photo credit: Wendy Dixon Whiley

Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?

A: I’m enjoying the direction my practice is heading, but half of the fun is in not knowing how it will evolve – what I do hope is that I will have increasing amounts of time to devote to it, finding time is one of the challenges at the moment!

Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be?

A: I can’t stop at just one! Ryoji Ikeda – his digital installations/projections are completely immersive, I could stare at them for hours at a time. Gareth Sansom’s work at the recent Adelaide Biennial also stopped me in my tracks, I sat and stared at his works for the longest time on more than one occasion. Eko Nugroho will always be one of my favourites though, you can probably tell why if you know his work!

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Wendy’s paste up at the Adelaide Hills. Photo credit: Wendy Dixon Whiley

Q: What is your favourite gallery?

A: MONA in Hobart wins hands down, forget Disneyland – this is my happiest place on Earth!

Q: Where can we find more of your work?

A: My website is a good place to start. Starting in August I’ll also be undertaking a large project called ‘Paste the Hills’ in the Adelaide Hills so I’ll be painting in public a lot over the next 6 – 8 months. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter.

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Exhibition featuring Wendy’s artworks. Photo credit: Wendy Dixon Whiley

Q: If you had the power to introduce one Olympic sport, what would it be?

A: Ultimate Frisbee – as a person who generally shuns most sports, I’ve found this is the only one I ever enjoyed playing. Possibly because of its ‘spirit of the game’ ethos which is far removed from the hyper-competitive, ‘win-at-all-costs’ vibe of a lot of other sports.

– Masya Zabidi

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